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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Briefs: Forest projects; Yellowstone tourism spending drops

 A sign for the Bitterroot National Forest.
A sign for the Bitterroot National Forest.

Bitterroot National Forest seeks public comment on four fuel-break projects
Montana Public Radio | By Edward O'Brien

The Bitterroot National Forest is seeking public comment on four proposed fuel-break projects aimed at protecting communities and infrastructure from catastrophic wildfire.

The Rye Creek, Sleeping Child, Soda Baker and Sula projects are in the Darby-Sula and West Fork Ranger Districts.

The state has identified these areas as having high wildfire risk and significant forest health concerns.

Under the proposal, mechanical, hand thinning and prescribed burning may be used to reduce fuel loads.

Each fuel break may be up to 3,000 acres in size with a maximum width of 1,000 feet.

The Forest Service is authorized to reduce fuels in areas close to important infrastructure like roads and power lines without needing to conduct a full environmental review

Comments are due by September 14th.

Flathead National Forest seeks public comment on a proposed logging project
Montana Public Radio | By Aaron Bolton

The Flathead National Forest announced Friday that it is seeking comment on a proposed logging project east of the Hungry Horse Reservoir.

The Dry Riverside Project would harvest roughly 4,200 acres. The project would include temporary roads, but the U.S. Forest Service said motorized access wouldn’t change.

The agency said the project aims to encourage tree diversity while maintaining large species resistant to fire and insects. The project will also include the planting of white bark pine, which is listed as a threatened species.

The comment period lasts through Oct. 1.

Yellowstone brings in one-third fewer visitors and dollars spent last year
Montana Public Radio | By Austin Amestoy

A new report from the National Park Service shows Yellowstone National Park brought in about one-third fewer visitors and dollars spent in local communities last year compared to 2021.

The park closed for more than a week in June 2022 during historic flooding. That dampened total visitation a year after the park set an all-time record.

Glacier National Park’s visitation and visitor spending was down about 5% from 2021.

Nationwide, however, national park tourists spent nearly $24 billion in local economies, which is a new high.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

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